Our Wellness Guru this week is an endurance athlete and artist who's past-times and body of work will make you feel like the laziest person on earth, but incredibly inspiring too. Sam Mould is loves to travel and paint the world along the way. She has swum in 365 bodies of water in 365 days, she crossed the Channel in a butterfly relay, and commendably cycled from the most northerly tip of Norway to the most southerly tip of Spain in two months.
Sam has set herself a couple of rules to boot- no wetsuits, and she had to swim for a minimum of 10 minutes a day. She believes cold water is good for her, as it actually boosts the immune system due to an increase of white blood cells.
Her work is currently on exhibition at the prestigious Griffin Gallery in west London, her hanging paintings are cut-outs of her trails around the Lake District, and they are actually imbued with water and earth pigment from the landscape. There are more adventures on Sam’s horizon, she plans to swim all of the tarns in the Lake District, as well as swimming the length of Lake Geneva this summer, estimated to take her 48 hours.
Tell us about yourself Sam, and how you got to be where you are today?
I am an Artist, Swim Guide, Cyclist, Swimmer and Physiotherapist. Working hard and remaining goal driven; with a lot of persistence and a sense of humour, has allowed me to over come many obstacles. I make my own rules and I challenge myself to live by them.
I studied physiotherapy at degree level and worked in professional sports, which eventually led to a natural career break and a return to studying fine art at undergraduate and postgraduate level, where I continued to work as a therapist to support myself. More recently art and adventure have combined in swimming and I’m pursuing both with an open mind.
2. Tell us how you spend your average working day
My days are incredibly varied and I often work seven days a week. A studio day might consist of a cycle and an early morning lake swim, followed by porridge with fresh fruit and nuts. I would then cycle to the studio, work through until mid-afternoon painting, grazing on fruit, yoghurt, coffee, tea and the occasional biscuit. Normally, I complete any urgent emails or phone calls, then continue in the studio until late and cycle back home to a supper of roasted vegetables or fish or scrambled eggs and avocado. Then I continue to work on some writing and editing at home. When I work as a physiotherapist, I follow a similar routine, except that I can't graze whilst working in the hospital, I have a limited lunch, which consists of the previous nights left overs. After working as a physiotherapist all day I normally go swim training to wash away any troubles of the day and to think and relax.
Swim guiding for SwimQuest in Greece is a really active job that requires providing water safety over the course of the day whilst guests swim island to island or coastal swims. The guides (and sometimes the guests) get up early and go for a run and a swim. We check the weather. A good breakfast is important for both the guides and the guests as normally the swim distances are 1km plus, so; eggs, greek yoghurt, honey and fruit and a strong greek coffee. At least two swims a day for the guests means that we are on a boat ensuring that they are looked after in the water. Before they get in ensuring suncream and Vaseline (to limit the salt rubbing swim costumes) are applied. We talk about swim technique and teach our guests about open water swimming. We take some film and take photographs of their swim experience. Sometimes we need to swim with them to keep them safe, to provide confidence or to simply urge them on. We return to the hotel for lunch; perhaps some greek salad. The afternoons are normally filled with another swim, talk about technique or perhaps a stretching or pilates class, then home cooked Greek food for supper, spinach and feta pie, salad, grilled meat or fresh fish. We then check the weather and plan the next day. Eventually we fall into bed after a beer and some lively conversation from our guests.
3. What inspires you?
I'm inspired by big open landscapes and wild places and how we exist in these elements. What human effort and endeavour is required to get that view over the next mountain, or navigate though the mist, or swim across that cold body of water. I'm also inspired by people who attempt to do things that push their boundaries and challenge themselves to achieve something that they thought was beyond them, even if they fail; I think that the tenacity to attempt something should be celebrated and we can learn something from both success and failure and I look to those individuals to help me in my challenges.
4. What’s your goal in life?
I have many goals both personal and professional; currently a focus on becoming an international artist that pursues an exploration of the boundaries of painting, as I believe one of the jobs of an artist is to provoke thought and conversation in the viewer. I want to be a trusted and loyal friend, sister and daughter, to be able to reflect that when I apply myself to any task that I tried my best.
5. What does Wellness mean to you?
Wellness encompasses a healthy body and a healthy mind. Feeling well for me is to try and frame everything that happens in my world as a useful experience that I might learn something from.
6. What advice would you give to a person looking to transform their life?
Dream big; embrace the fear and go for it. Be grateful for what you have and celebrate the small things. Appreciate the here and now and be persistent in the belief of what you want to do, no matter what anyone else thinks.
7. Tell us more about your current exhibition and what inspired it?
My current exhibition at Pool, Griffin Gallery was inspired by Alfred Wainwrights love of the Lake District. I completed a series of walks and swims in Wainwrights last resting place; Innominate Tarn at Haystacks. Those walks and swims were documented as large hanging canvases, as a collection of earth pigments and water from the tarn itself and with a handmade bench, as a memorial, which has a small plaque reading 'in loving memory of the living'. These articles all together reflect our existence in the landscape at a particular time and at a particular place and I hope to provoke thought about those wild places and what they mean.
8. Tell us your Top 3 Tips for Wellness?
1. Surround yourself and give time to individuals who say ‘yes’. The positive people in your world who are buoyant and believe in you will keep you focused and give you moral support.
2. Find some mentors in life for both personal and career purposes and be open to providing support and mentorship to those who feel an affiliation to you.
3. Fuel your body and mind with good nutritious food stuffs (ideally organic) and regular daily exercise.
9. So what’s next in your career/life?
The next career goal, as well as fulfilling my newly appointed swim guide responsibilities with SwimQuest, which means lots of swim training and rescue practice, is a world first butterfly relay along the length of Lake Geneva this summer. A six man relay swimming 69km non-stop, which will take approximately 36hours. Further to this I have another creative project that involves swimming in the Lake District, producing prints and writing an illustrated book.